If you struggle with urinary incontinence, you aren’t alone. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC,) more than half of senior citizens struggle with urinary incontinence. Symptoms of urinary incontinence include a frequent and persistent urge to urinate and urine leakages between bathroom visits. Current estimates show that about 17% of adult women and 16% of adult men are affected by overactive bladder, which makes you feel like you need to frequently urinate. Urinary incontinence can cause embarrassment and frustration, forcing you to make frequent bathroom breaks throughout the day and interrupting your sleep at night.
The causes of urinary incontinence range from benign to serious. Common causes such as overactive bladder, weak pelvic floor muscles or an enlarged prostate. An enlarged prostate can be a sing of cancer or it could be non-cancerous, which is called benign prostatic hyperplasia. The enlarged prostate can block the urethra, not allowing you to void your bladder every time you need to go. This can cause multiple trips to the bathroom during the day and can be especially disruptive at night and affect your ability to get a good night’s sleep. It’s important to get the right diagnosis for the cause of your urinary incontinence. Treatments for urinary incontinence include medication and surgery in more serious cases.
In addition to following doctors orders, you can manage symptoms with lifestyle changes. Kegel exercises strengthen the walls of the pelvic floor. The pelvic muscles can weaken as we get older. Other conditions such as diabetes and overactive bladder can weaken the pelvic floor as well. Strengthening them can reduce your urgency and lengthen the time between bathroom visits.
Some foods can irritate your bladder and increase your urge to go. Avoiding irritating foods can reduce your urgency to go. Common food that irritate the bladder include coffee, tea, alcohol, citric fruits such as oranges, lemons, tomatoes and tomato products and spicy foods. Keep a food diary and keep track of your symptoms. If you notice them worsen after eating certain foods, it may be a good idea to limit or eliminate them from your diet.
Living with urinary incontinence doesn’t have to take over your life. There are things you can do to mitigate and even eliminate its effects. Knowing the cause of your urinary incontinence will help your doctor determine the most effective treatment. Medication and lifestyle changes can help you lessen incontinence’s affect on your daily life.